Judge rules ReDigi music resale service infringes copyright

The Judge ruled that it was illegal to resell a pre-owned music file unless sold with the device onto which it was downloaded

Selling a pre-owned digital music file is quite different from selling an old CD in the physical world, and may infringe copyright, a court in New York has ruled.

The court questioned a defense under the first sale doctrine in situations where a copy of the digital file is made when making a transfer. The first sale doctrine is the law that protects an user's ability in most cases to lend, sell, or give away copies of books, music and other copyrighted works without requiring the permission of the copyright owner.

The fact that a file has moved from one material object -- the user's computer -- to another -- the ReDigi server -- means that a reproduction has occurred, Judge Richard Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in his order.

"Similarly, when a ReDigi user downloads a new purchase from the ReDigi website to her computer, yet another reproduction is created. It is beside the point that the original phonorecord no longer exists. It matters only that a new phonorecord has been created," he added.

Capitol Records filed a complaint against ReDigi in January last year, alleging multiple copyright violations. The judge said in his ruling that sales through ReDigi's website infringe Capitol's exclusive rights to the reproduction and distribution of its content.

ReDigi, which runs an online marketplace for reselling pre-owned digital media, claimed to have in place technology that ensures that the music being resold has been bought legally, and also that the file has been deleted from the seller's device.

The file is not deleted automatically or involuntarily, though ReDigi's policy is to suspend the accounts of users who refuse to comply, the judge noted.

The judge also dismissed a defense under the first sale doctrine, and said the first sale defense is limited to material items, like records.

The first sale defense would, for example, cover the owner's sale of a particular "phonorecord," be it a computer hard disk, iPod, or other memory device onto which the file was originally downloaded, the judge said.

"Here, ReDigi is not distributing such material items; rather, it is distributing reproductions of the copyrighted code embedded in new material objects, namely, the ReDigi server in Arizona and its users' hard drives," he wrote.

Electronic Frontier Foundation described the ruling as a blow to the future of the first sale doctrine. "What is particularly frustrating is that the court reached that decision despite the fact that ReDigi went out of its way to prevent actual harm to any copyright owner," the online rights group added.

ReDigi also said it was disappointed with the decision but pointed out that the ruling only affected ReDigi 1.0, its original beta launch technology, which has been superseded by ReDigi 2.0 that the court stated was not affected by its ruling. The judge said that ReDigi 2.0 was not considered in the action as it was launched after the Capitol complaint and days before the close of discovery.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesReDigiintellectual propertycopyrightlegalMusic and audiointernetentertainmentCapitol

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?